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Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services

ABOUT DCLS

The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) is a division within the Virginia Department of General Services (DGS). DCLS was formed in 1972 when laboratories from several Virginia agencies were combined to provide more efficient and cost-effective laboratory testing services for the Commonwealth. DCLS was the first consolidated laboratory in the nation and as such offers a wide variety of unique laboratory testing services in support of public health, environmental protection and emergency response.

DCLS performs over 7 million tests each year in order to ensure the safety and health of Virginia's citizens, our food supply and our environment.

Our mission is to promote a healthier world through quality laboratory service.

Lab Testing

As Virginia's State Laboratory, DCLS provides laboratory testing for state agencies, local governments, federal agencies and other states. Our testing capabilities can be applied to a wide variety of sample types requiring the detection of biological, chemical, and/or radiological agents. Typical sample types include:

  • Human and animal fluids and tissues
  • Food and beverages
  • Animal feeds and fertilizers
  • Environmental (soil, sediment, air, vegetation, drinking water, recreational waters)
  • Blood specimens from all Virginia infants
  • Gasoline

The diversity of DCLS services allows for centralized laboratory preparedness, testing and response to outbreaks and emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola virus, Zika virus, or MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) under investigation by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

Our laboratory testing services support hazardous material exposure investigations by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, environmental monitoring and protection activities by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the testing of food and beverage products to assure the quality and the safety of these products as requested by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). The laboratory also tests many different commercial products available for purchase by Virginia agencies and private consumers to assure those materials meet regulatory standards and/or label guarantee specifications.

Look under the "Lab Services" portion of the website to learn more about each section within DCLS.

Collaboration

DCLS is dedicated to ensuring the continuous improvement of laboratory science through collaboration, outreach and training. Our laboratory has worked to create a network of laboratories within Virginia capable of meeting our state's current and future health challenges and to assure that DCLS maintains open communication with other state and federal laboratories and participates in available laboratory networks. DCLS has an ongoing commitment to the investigation, evaluation and implementation of new and improved technologies and instrumentation such as whole genome sequencing, exact mass/high resolution LC-MS/MS and automated robotics in order to assure the most accurate and rapid laboratory testing is available to our customers.

DCLS is a member of multiple state, federal, and national laboratory networks including:

  • Laboratory Response Network (LRN) and Environmental LRN (ELRN)
    • DCLS is Virginia's confirmatory (advanced-level) laboratory as part of the CDC National Network for laboratory detection of agents of biological, chemical, and radiological terrorism
  • PulseNet Regional Laboratory for the Mid-Atlantic states
    • PulseNet is a CDC network based on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) or DNA fingerprinting technology of foodborne pathogens. DCLS performs PFGE of pathogens to support epidemiological investigations and to identify potential outbreaks. As a Regional Laboratory, DCLS supports seven other laboratories and provides testing support in response to emergencies, surge testing requests or training needs. 
  • Food Emergency Response Network (FERN)
    • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) FERN Laboratory; USDA FERN Training Center
      • Network of laboratories prepared to provide emergency, surge, and surveillance testing to support national food safety initiatives and threat response activities. FERN labs are responsible for validating new food testing methods, new food matrices, and technologies to expand Virginia's capability and the nation's ability to respond to a threat to the food supply.
      • DCLS directs one of the two USDA FERN Training Centers, which were established to train FERN Network laboratorians in food testing methods and technologies.

Lab Certification & Accreditation

DCLS certifies/accredits commercial and non-commercial laboratories operating throughout the Commonwealth and in other states that provide testing of environmental and drinking water samples for regulatory compliance. Examples of testing for which this certification or accreditation is required include drinking water testing for public water supplies under the requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, non-potable water testing for waste treatment operations under the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, and testing for Virginia's air, water, and waste regulations administered by Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Laboratories requiring certification or accreditation services from DCLS include commercially-operated businesses as well as municipal and industrial laboratories. DCLS additionally certifies laboratories that certify calibration devices for speed detection equipment used by state and local law enforcement.

Learn more about certification/accreditation programs at the following links:

Newborn Screening

Virginia's Newborn Screening (NBS) (link to NBS page) laboratory testing program is conducted at DCLS. The NBS program is responsible for testing every baby born in Virginia for 29 genetic and metabolic disorders. These disorders are identified from just a few drops of blood from a heel-stick and when identified can result in life-changing or lifesaving outcomes for the baby.

DCLS' capabilities and services are constantly changing as the needs of the Commonwealth change. Our goal is to ensure prompt laboratory response and testing results in order to prevent diseases and promote a healthier Virginia and Nation. Please continue to check our website for updates to available laboratory testing services, courier schedule changes, and more.